Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 3

In Laura's final blog post she discusses how her approach to her character has changed, the technical rehearsal and having to balance performing in a comedy and a tragedy.

Transcript of Podcast

Luciana in The Comedy of Errors

I’m getting to like Luciana more. I’ve started to inhabit her. I started rehearsals thinking she was very soft but now I’ve found there is a certain amount of knowingness about her. I don’t know how to describe Luciana. She is quite complicated. She has quite fixed opinions about things and she is slightly cynical. She can see Adriana and Antipholus’ marriage at close quarters because she lives with them. She can see it is slightly off kilter, that there is something not quite right.

I originally thought she wanted the perfect happy ever after story for herself, believing in romance and reading romance novels and that sort of thing. That's still there, but I think she is more like us. We all want the perfect love story for ourselves but we don’t always talk about these things to people. We can pretend things are under control and we can advise other people on their situations. Luciana is young, and very opinionated. She is also a bit eager – to make Adrianna happy for instance, but she is also a bit on edge. She likes things organised and when things don’t go right she is a bit twitchy.

She is living in the house as her sister's companion. Their parents have died and, until she is married, Luciana's place in society is with her sister. It isn’t her household but I think she tends to do more than Adrianna because I think Adrianna is a little bit of a lush! They have crazy servants in the house, and Luciana is trying to keep a hold on things but, of course, it isn’t possible in The Comedy of Errors to keep a hold on things, so it unravels for her. The turning point for Luciana is the scene where Antipholus of Syracuse, who she obviously thinks is her brother in law Antipholus of Ephesus, says I don’t know who your sister is but I love you. Luciana thinks he is her sister's husband and that this is awful but at the same time their two souls are meeting and she likes it. For me, that is where her heart gets really engaged for the first time. It is a desperate situation for her. She's trying to ignore what has happened but she's also starting to feel that she loves her sister's husband. It becomes more serious after that.

I didn’t do the same sort of research for this play as I did for Titus. My preparation was really just sitting and thinking about Luciana. I went onto the internet once, typed in Comedy of Errors and Luciana, and read a couple of essays, but I was bored by them. What is often said about her is that she believes that the duty of wives to their husbands is to be submissive and serve them, and be demure and non-opinionated. Then later on in the play she is basically saying the opposite. When the Abbess comes out and says that Antipholus will stay with her, Luciana is the one getting riled and outspoken, so she can stand up for herself. I see her as having a certain amount of cynicism about relationships, and when it happens to her, even though she thinks it is her sister's husband, something uncontrollable happens. She can’t use her head any more. Towards the end she hardly says anything, because there is so much going on. Basically I just look quizzical a lot.

Technical rehearsal

We did the technical rehearsal in a day yesterday, in two sessions. Everything has been so organised. The set is great. We use the balcony as the upstairs of Antipholus and Adrianna's house. We have a front door, and there is a whole street system inside the tiring house, which the audience can see, which we use in the chase scenes. We have a lighting designer, so the streets are lit to make them look like day, and even on stage there is a lot more lighting than there is normally at the Globe. The music is very un-Globelike. There are no original instruments, there's lots of brass. The costumes look incredible. They are Roman but with a sixties feel.

There is more than a hint of Carry on Cleo [a British comedy film, 1965]. I have a beehive hairdo and I have this little purple dress which is lovely. The colours are really beautiful – you’d think they wouldn’t work together, but they do. When I play Luciana, I’m wearing my glasses which means I can see for the first time! I’m not sure I really want to do that any more though. Yesterday, I felt like I didn’t know the theatre any more because I could see everything. Normally, I don’t wear my glasses on stage and my eyesight means that things are visible but a bit blurry. Now everything is crisp; I felt I could see every grain of wood. I might try to get some prop glasses instead.

At the moment the show runs at an hour and a half. It is a dream show. The play is extraordinary. We don’t need to do anything to it. If we just say the words, we know there will be a laugh, but that is not enough for any company of actors. We don’t just want to do a production of The Comedy of Errors, we want to do the definitive production of The Comedy of Errors.

The audience will love it. I’m sure it will be difficult as well. Playing comedy can be. I did loads of comedy in college, but professionally I haven’t done as much. The trick is not to try to be funny, but to play the situation. It takes a lot of energy to do comedy, because you have to lift something which sometimes isn’t there, whereas with tragedy it sinks into you, you have to allow it to happen. When I did The Importance of Being Earnest I was often quite down, because you spend all the time on the stage being so up. They say comedians are prone to depression.

Playing Lavinia and Luciana

It is great fun to be doing something which is so different from Titus. It took me a long time to let go of Titus enough to want to do a comedy but we have a three week gap in Titus performances which started this week, and I’ve felt relieved to be able to just concentrate on The Comedy of Errors. I want to be able to give everything to Comedy and not be sidetracked by having to do Titus performances because that would stop me throwing myself into Luciana's world completely. When we start doing Titus again we only do about one a week, which will be hard.

Lavinia has left me with more of a wound than I thought she would. It's something I don’t really want to think about. The more I’ve done it, the more the horror has embedded itself. It does become routine, but the routine is unhealthy subconsciously. The play is so dark, there is no hope at all.

Playing the two roles in the same season is a great challenge. I’m not sure I like the idea of the audience coming along and thinking, I wonder how the woman who was Lavinia will be in a comedy, or the other way round. I just want them to think of me as the role I’m playing, not of me as an actor.

These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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